Sophomore Science Research Class visits the DNA Learning Center NYC at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


Photo by Ms. Loew

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On May 24, the sophomores in the Science Research class took a trip to the DNA Learning Center NYC at City Tech. In this new environment, students explored how biotechnology is applied to research and were exposed to lab equipment not available in class.

The DNA Learning Center provides vital concepts and techniques of modern biotechnology. The class participated in the bacterial transformation experiment demonstrating the connection between an organism’s genotype and its observable characteristics, phenotype, with the environment. They compared the transformed bacteria to non-transformed bacteria in their ability to grow and glow.

The students learned about the process of genetic engineering live in action through a jellyfish experiment. “By using bacteria and a gene from a jellyfish, they were able to transform the bacteria so that they expressed the jellyfish’s gene that glowed,” said science teacher Sarah Loew. The experiment they observed was successful, and the students were able to utilize what Ms. Loew taught in class in an outside experiment. 

Ms. Loew said that in class, students “ use q-tips or an inoculating loop to spread the bacteria. But in this lab, they used little glass beams, and we shook them around the table.” The visit to the DNA Learning Center allowed the class to gain exposure to the different materials used to spread bacteria. After the trip, the students received their results the next day to then observed and analyzed their results using UV light in class. 

Many students enjoyed the trip as it was a new learning opportunity about Science Research. Sophomore Yazhi Dai said, “I liked how we were able to perform the experience with a careful demonstration of the steps. I had fun while being able to conduct a scientific experiment about genetic engineering.” 

Similarly, Sophomore Lamiah Tasmin said, “I enjoyed working with new lab equipment that I don’t usually get the chance to use in school.” 

It was not only a fun experience for them, but the students took home new knowledge through having access to the Learning Center. When asked about what they gained from this experience, sophomore Zainab Ousama said, “I was able to learn a variety of techniques including pipetting as well as how each step affected the process of genetically modifying the bacteria.” 

As the year ends, Ms. Loew shared her hopes regarding the impact of the class on her students. “They learned a lot about the purpose of STEM in terms of the potential to have a career and possibly contribute to the world through this field,” said Ms. Loew.